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Cablegate: Gnu State Minister Declares Re-Established Splm-Ncp

VZCZCXRO8778
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0094 0231019
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 231019Z JAN 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9762
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000094

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, AF SE WILLIAMSON
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: GNU STATE MINISTER DECLARES RE-ESTABLISHED SPLM-NCP
RELATIONSHIP A "NEW PAGE"

REF: (A) KHARTOUM 075

(B) KHARTOUM 027
(C) KHARTOUM 015

1. (SBU) On 22 January, CDA Fernandez called on newly appointed
Minister of State for the Presidency, Joseph Lual. Minister Lual,
an SPLM member from the Dinka tribe and former state administrator
for Bahr el Ghazal, was brought into the government when the SPLM
ended its boycott of the GNU earlier this month. Describing the
re-established SPLM-NCP cooperation as the opening of a "new page"
for the two parties, he explained that the parties are jointly
working to resolve critical issues such as the Abyei border dispute.
Lual also worked for many years with ICRC and WFP in the South and
in Sudanese refugee camps and was resident in Liberia during some of
the worst years of the violence there.

2. (SBU) After congratulating the new minister on his appointment
and asking him about the renewed SPLM-NCP cooperation, the CDA
raised the issue of Misseriya-SPLM skirmishes in Southern Kordofan
(refs B and C). Lual commended the leadership of President
Al-Bashir in guiding the Joint Defense Board (JDB) to resolve the
skirmishes, which he said "are being taken care of."

3. (SBU) The CDA asked Lual about a USD 11 million shortfall in
census funding that the GNU verbally promised to release in 2008.
Lual defended the government by saying that the 2008 budget was
approved late last month and that the Minister of Finance is working
on the details of financial disbursement. Lual admitted that if the
GNU does not release the remaining census funds, it could be a
"major stumbling block" to the census process but expected the
shortfall would be met. [NOTE: The national census is set to take
place April 15-30. END NOTE.]

4. (SBU) Lual declined to comment on the rumor that the British
UNAMID Chief of Staff would be dismissed by the GNU. When asked by
the CDA if the two parties consulted on such matters, Lual said that
consultation "may be" taking place. CDA Fernandez warned that such a
step would be very unfortunate. On the US-Sudanese relationship,
Lual stated that the GNU partners agreed that the relationship
should be improved, but he had no answer for how long it would take.
The CDA responded by stating that newly appointed US Special Envoy
to Sudan, Ambassador Richard Williamson, will likely make his first
visit to Sudan in his official position in February and will be
looking to hear the GNU's views on ways to improve the
relationship.

5. (SBU) Lual concluded by asserting that the NCP-SPLM will not
return to war, but rather will fight their battles through verbal
negotiation. He likened the CPA to the Ten Commandments, as far as
South Sudanese are concerned, and asked the CDA for the USG's help
in safeguarding and implementing the agreement. The CDA assured
Lual that the USG is always willing to listen and to help with such
issues and highlighted the USG's ongoing commitment to Sudan by
pointing out that the USG is the largest bilateral donor in the
country.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: Lual spoke broadly and cautiously in his
discussions and lent little valuable insight on critical issues.
Although he claimed that the NCP-SPLM relationship has gotten off to
solid "new" start, we have seen signs that grave mistrust between
the two parties still exists, especially on issues such as Abyei,
the census, and the 2009 national elections (ref A). Lual's
discretion may be laudable but he faces tremendous challenges. The
Minister of State for the Presidency is in a key position to
implement policies decided by Sudan's three-man presidency
(Al-Bashir, FVP Kiir, VP Taha) but will have to be an
extraordinarily subtle and dogged bureaucratic player not to be
deceived by experienced NCP insiders. END COMMENT.

FERNANDEZ

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